This is a simple activity with great cognitive benefits. Matching is the simplest form of finding patterns which is an important part of learning to organizing information. This is important for math and reading later on. Customize this to your child’s abilities by using colored foam like me to give an extra cue or use all the same color foam to make it harder.
- Gather your materials. You will need some foam circles, permanent markers and a pair of scissors.
- Draw some patterns. Make sure the marker is dry before handling it.
- Cut the circles in half.
- Invite your wee one . I had one half out for her and all the rest in a pile for her to choose from to make a match.
- If they need help ask if they see any of the same color .
- Celebrate every match!
This activity came about because my son was in trouble and had to clean his room before he was allowed to do anything else! While cleaning his usually Lego littered room we found these melty bead pegboards and I knew immediately what we were going to do with them. These pegboard rubbings are as simple as it gets but actually packed with learning and lessons that focus not only on concrete physical skills but also on patience and caution. For my toddler who loved the feel of the boards and sound of the crayon rubbing over them it was a great sensory activity.
- Gather your materials. You will need some plain paper, melty bead pegboards, crayons and painter’s tape.
- Start by occupying your toddler if they are with you , which if yours is like mine they are always with you or on you. I grabbed a basket and threw in some animals. I asked her to take them all out , then put them all back in. It took her just the right amount of time for me and her brother to do the next 3 steps.
- Peel the crayons. If you are doing this craft with a child who can’t peel them yet do this before you invite them to create. If they can do it, please make them do at least half. It’s wonderful fine motor development and patience.
- Next flip the boards over and add painters tape. This will keep them in place while rubbing. Nothing wrecks learning or creativity than something going haywire like a pegboard sliding out from under paper. This will prevent that.
- Add the boards to the table. Explore the texture of them.
- Place the paper over the boards and using the side of the crayon rub. My son started with the crayon angled and going way too fast.
- Soon he discovered that if he went slowly and made sure that the crayon was horizontal that it worked much better. For a little guy discovering that slow and steady is better than getting done fast and first is a big deal.
- Next add more colors if you want.
- For my toddler I pulled her onto my lap and we did it together. She was not coordinated enough to hold the paper and rub at the same time. By being on my lap it let me hold the paper tightly and help her with the crayon too. She loved the sound .
Books About Shapes
Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a cute book that not only helps teach shapes it is also entertaining! The three crafty mice use the shapes to protect themselves from one hungry cat finally using them to make scary mice to frighten the cat away! Kids love to help find which shapes are used in the illustrations and older ones can even anticipate what the mice will make next!
Dinosaur Shapes by Paul Stickland will delight you and your dinosaur fan. The book is geared towards toddlers and young preschoolers who are still mastering finding basic shapes. A shape is displayed on one side of the page and then those silly dinosaurs are playing with it on the other. My son loves dinosaurs so even though he’s known these shapes for ages it’s an enjoyable book with fun text and adorable illustrations by Henrietta Stickland.This post contains affiliate links
We usually rush off to t-ball after school but the practice was rained out and I was determined not to fill the time with TV although I really wanted to just chill and read too. So we went up to our messy playroom and while my son set up his playdough battleground again and my daughter played with her doll house I set up this ocean mural. We’ve been reading a lot of ocean books lately and this ties in to them perfectly while sneaking in some shape learning and writing practice too! Vertical surfaces like walls are fantastic for developing proper wrist muscles and form for writing so find ways to get your kids writing on the walls…or easels…or white boards… you get my point.
- Gather your materials. You will need some bright printer paper. You can use construction paper too but this peels on and off the contact paper easier. Contact paper, some good quality painter’s tape or cheap stuff and some thumb tacks, scissors and markers.
- Start by putting the contact paper sticky side out on your wall. I used painter’s tape which as long as you have good quality tape will work great. If you have the cheap stuff you may like me need to use some thumb tacks too.
- Cut out all sorts of shapes from the multicolored paper. This is great scissor practice for kids so have them cut some out too. My wee man was busy and playing well and I wasn’t going to interrupt so I cut them all out but there is no reason an adult has to do this step solo.
- When they are up to it invite the kids to play and create an under sea world.Immediately he started adding happy faces.
- He discovered that the blue marker made cool water when he colored the contact paper.
- My daughter wasn’t as interested as her brother but she did add a purple starfish and color it.
- I love seeing them work together even if it’s only for a few minutes.
- Now our playroom is brighter !
Barry the Fish with Fingers by Sue Hendra is a goofy fun book that had me wrapped around it’s fingers with the title, I mean a fish named Barry? And he has fingers?! I love it. Thankfully my judgment was smack dab on because the inside of the book was as funny as the cover. Barry isn’t just a fish with fingers he is a hero when his fingers save the day. The illustrations are so fun, the text is zippy and both my kids ( 4 and 10 months) loved it from start to finish.
The Seaside Switch by Kathleen V. Kudlinski is a book packed with information about tides and creatures in the sea. As a child I found nothing more fascinating than a tide pool and all the scurrying crabs and this book captures that. It’s main story is how the tide changes throughout the day and brings with it different animals. The book is too long for most toddlers but my son enjoyed pointing out the animals in the book.
Swimmy by Leo Lionni has been a favorite of mine for many years. I love Lionni and how he can weave multiple layers of meaning into a simple story for children. Swimmy is a story about a little fish who lost his family to a giant tuna fish and after grieving he was reminded of all the wonderful things there were to see and experience in the ocean. When he came across a school of fish just like his former one hiding afraid of the big fish he knew he couldn’t let them miss out on all the wonders of the ocean and he rallied them to work as a team. This is a great book for teaching children about the power of working as a group to combat challenges as well as conquering fears.
Now that my daughter is a very opinionated toddler she makes it very clear that she wants to do what her 5 year old brother is doing. It’s not always easy to find activities that both kids can sit down and do together. This was the perfect after Easter project that uses plastic eggs and they could both sit together and make something. Whether your child is making circle prints like my daughter or rolling, counting and printing they are learning all about math while creating beautiful art!
- Gather your materials. You will need some plastic Easter eggs ( but any print making tool will do ) paint, paper, a plate for the paint and some dice.
- Start by pouring some fun colors of paint on to the plate.
- For the beginner version hand them an egg and start making prints. For toddlers like my daughter I would use a big egg so it’s safe ( of course she grabbed the small one but I watched her carefully and it never went in her mouth) and do one initial print then let them go wild…and wild she did.
- For the advanced option roll the dice and see what you get. Whatever that number is is the number of times you make prints in the color of your choice .
- Roll again. Print again… keep going as long as there is room on the paper, or keep going on a new sheet.
- Don’t forget about the messy toddler. When they are printing make sure to narrate some of what they are doing . ” Oh that is a lovely red circle!” ” That pink paint looks fabulous on your hair!” .
This can be done with all sorts of tools like toilet paper rolls, stamps, potatoes and so much more. What is your favorite non conventional tool for painting?
Books About Painting
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!by Karen Beaumont is guaranteed to entertain your child, even my toddler was laughing and anticipating the rhyming text which tickled me to no end! Now I have had some parents in the past not be happy about the use of “ain’t ” and the little boy in the story painting everywhere, I would counter that by saying people do use “ain’t” and kids do paint on things they aren’t supposed to you can use this as an example of what you aren’t supposed to do, and ask your child what they think should happen if they painted all over the house? As far as using “Ain’t” I would play the traditional “It ain’t gonna rain no more” and explain that the author used that song as inspiration for the book.
Hugo and Miles In I’ve Painted Everything by Scott Magoon is going on my must buy list. I have renewed this book for months from my local library. I finally have to return this book and I just don’t want to! The book is all about Hugo a painter who has painter’s block. He goes to Paris with his best friend Miles for inspiration, and among the sites, the masterpieces and thanks to the Eiffel tower he finds it! I love this book and my son just eats it up. He wants to go to Paris to the “Moosay Dor-see” to see Van Gogh and climb the Eiffel tower thanks to Hugo!
Willow by Denise Brennan Nelson is another wonderful book about artistic spirit. Willow doesn’t follow the rules in art class, instead she paints what she sees when she closes her eyes. Her teacher’s rules are unfair, restrictive and she is just plain mean! It’s hard as a teacher to read stories with mean , repressive teachers in them, and this one takes the cake. Willow doesn’t stop painting blue apples and is confident in her individuality and isn’t as bothered by her mean teacher as I am. This story is really worth a look!!
Creating with shapes to make a bigger creation has been an activity I have done for years at home and in the classroom. If your child decides that they want to create something other than the end product you intended encourage it! They are still playing with, manipulating and getting a hands on experience with shapes which is the goal, the end product isn’t. Some kids like my son want an end goal to work towards to get started , so here are some fun projects to inspire your shape creations.
Shape House. Fantastic for basic shapes and little hands.
Shape Dinosaur. Make shapes exciting for your little paleontologist.
Shape Sail Boat. Set sail while learning about geometry.
Shape Pizza . Add shape toppings to your circle crust.
Shape Trash Truck . Perfect for those kids who go batty on garbage day.
Shape Bulldozer. What can I say my son likes big trucks.
Shape Banjo. Great way to mix math with art and music.
Shape Castle. Make it big and detailed or simple just don’t forget the glitter!
Shape Firetruck. Firetrucks were the big thing around here for a long time.
Shape Snake . Make a little one or a huge long snake full of all sorts of shapes.
Mining For Shapes. Play pretend while learning about shapes too.
Shape Skyscraper. Sort your shapes and make a 3D building with them.
Shape 4 Leaf Clover. Get ready for St.Patrick’s Day with this fun shape craft.
Shape Sorting. An easy introduction for young preschoolers.
Shape Princess. For your princess obsessed kiddos.